Leadership

Michelle Shegda
Educator. Facilitator. Advocate. Curriculum Specialist. Egalitarian. Bookworm.
Tattoo-Enthusiast. Mentor.
Headshot Michelle

A Personal Note from Our Executive Director

There is a difference between self-confidence and self-worth. For instance, I was always confident in my abilities as they related to school, work ethic, athletic performance and making friends, but I always doubted my self-worth in intimate relationships. For example, I could ace a college final, but I could never believe the hottie in my class was interested in me for my brains. Inside my head, I heard, “You are not worthy enough for that beautiful human!”

And so, I settled for all sorts of unworthy partners and made very poor choices. It wasn't until I started working with young people after college that I began to recognize my own issues. I saw myself in that smart, creative, fun, talented, gorgeous 19-year-old single mom that constantly let her baby daddy cheat on her. After much self-reflection and many conversations with women like myself, I knew there was a greater social affliction around the lack of self-worth and I wanted to be part of the remedy.

My interest in combating unplanned teen pregnancy started long before my own self-realization. During my senior year of high school, my twin brother and his girlfriend conceived. For my family, this was a crisis and a secret. In addition, my parents ignored the opportunity to provide me with a teachable moment. Yes, my twin brother was going to be a father and yes, I was headed to college, and yet, I did not receive any information about safer sex.

So, what's a sexually active teen to do when raised Catholic and only lectured to on abstinence and marriage for 12 years of Catholic school by celibate priests and nuns? Well, I found a reliable and relatable source and educated myself, of course!

Once in college, I quickly learned my peers were not as concerned with their sexual health as I was. I made it my mission to enlighten, instruct and share information. There was no way I was getting pregnant with my whole life ahead of me. I found myself wondering why educating young women with sexual health facts and birth control options weren't more commonplace.

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About Michelle

Michelle resides in Venice Beach, CA and spends her free time volunteering, playing soccer, belly dancing, reading, riding her bike and skateboarding along the boardwalk.

Once in college, I quickly learned my peers were not as concerned with their sexual health as I was. I made it my mission to enlighten, instruct and share information. There was no way I was getting pregnant with my whole life ahead of me. I found myself wondering why educating young women with sexual health facts and birth control options weren't more commonplace.

Fast forward to 2010 and the birth of Girls PACT. I married my wisdom in sexual health and passion for youth development to create a platform that builds self-worth and combats unplanned pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy is just inexcusable in the 21st century. This was a match made in heaven (all puns intended!).

Needless to say, I am fascinated by the dynamics of relationships and the power we give to our insecurities. I am utterly intrigued by unconscious bias, gender stereotypes, gender inequality and their impact on perpetuating rape culture. In all of my work with young people, I strive to stimulate and strengthen critical thinking. More specifically, I hope that every young person claims their self-worth and learns to make educated, informed decisions with conviction.

The Girls PACT journey, thus far, has been challenging and rewarding, and we have only just begun. I hope you join us.

Onward,

Michelle Shegda

Michelle Shegda
Executive Director

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